Yokogawa Electric Corporation announces that it has developed the SU10 Single Cellome™ Unit, a device that uses a nanopipette*1 to inject substances such as genes and drugs and aspirate intracellular materials at target locations in individual cells. Targeting the biological research market, the SU10 is being released on this date in Japan, with release in other markets such as the US to follow at a later date.
Through the development of such solutions, Yokogawa's life innovation business is fostering the development of an industry centering on the use of smart cells, i.e. finely-designed, expression-controlled biological cells.
Rapid advances in biotechnology are leading to the development of a bioeconomy that is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on fields ranging from agriculture to manufacturing and healthcare. One segment of this bioeconomy will be the smart cell industry, which will involve the manufacture of high-performance products such as biological medicines and replacements for petroleum-derived products using finely-designed, expression-controlled cellular organisms (smart cells). Smart cells are expected to bring about major changes in the energy and environmental industries as well as such fields as agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, and to solve a number of problems facing humanity.
In April 2018, Yokogawa established a Life Innovation Business Headquarters with the goal of promoting well-being for all. In addition to engaging in our existing life science and manufacturing solutions businesses targeting the pharmaceutical and food industries, the headquarters will work with our customers to develop new products and services that make use of Yokogawa's core measurement, control, and information technologies, and provide one-stop solutions that revolutionize productivity throughout the pharmaceutical and food industry value chain, from basic research to manufacturing, logistics, and services.
There is keen interest within the cancer and immunology research fields in the use of single-cell analysis to clarify the causes of diseases and study pathological conditions, and this is expected to lead to advances in drug discovery research and the development of precision medicine and regenerative medicine. With the aim of fostering the development of a smart cell industry, Yokogawa has developed the SU10 for use by researchers in single-cell analysis.
1. Minimally invasive*2 nanopipette
The SU10 enables the injection of substances such as genes and drugs and the aspiration of intracellular materials at targeted locations in individual cells. In contrast to the micrometer-sized pipettes that are used to perform such tasks, the tip of the nanopipette used in the SU10 has an outer diameter of approximately one hundred nanometers (nm), making it one of the smallest pipettes available for use in the biology research field*3. The tip of this nanopipette is much smaller than the cells that are analyzed with the SU10, making it minimally invasive and thereby allowing single-cell analyses of living cells.
2. Improved efficiency through the automation of analysis
An industry first*4, the SU10 automates a series of processes, starting with the detection of a cell surface and continuing with the penetration of the cell surface and the injection and aspiration of materials to and from the cell, all operations that up till now had to be performed manually by skilled researchers. With the SU10, injection and aspiration operations can be performed easily on living cells.
Hiroshi Nakao, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the Life Innovation Business Headquarters, commented on the release of the SU10 as follows: "Yokogawa is striving to achieve its Three Goals for sustainability by the year 2050. Our life innovation business is at the core of our efforts to promote well-being, which is one of the Three Goals. The SU10 offers new value to our customers who are conducting cutting-edge research and development work in biology and medicine. We will continue to grow our life innovation business by such means as expanding our product lineup with a micropipette-based single-cell analyzer that is under development, and are also considering the offering of such solutions on a subscription basis."
Major Target Users
• Universities, colleges, and research institutes that engage in life science research
• Pharmaceutical and food companies
• Cell analysis
*1 A pipette is a tube for injecting and aspirating a minute amount of material. A nanopipette is a tube with a tip diameter from 1 nanometer (nm) to less than 1,000 nm. One nm is equal to one-billionth of a meter. The term nanopipette also refers to a tube whose injection/aspiration volume is nanosized. Our nanopipette technology was developed by BioStinger, Inc., a US-based company that Yokogawa acquired in November 2019.
*2 Not causing much physical damage to a living organism. This term is used in the medical and biological fields.
*3 One micrometer (μm) is equal to one millionth of a meter, and one nanometer (nm) is equal to one billionth of a meter.
*4 Based on a March 2020 Yokogawa survey.
Founded in 1915, Yokogawa (yokogawa.com) engages in broad-ranging activities in the areas of measurement, control, and information. The industrial automation business provides vital products, services, and solutions to a diverse range of process industries including oil, chemicals, natural gas, power, iron and steel, and pulp and paper. With the life innovation business, the company aims to radically improve productivity across the pharmaceutical and food industry value chains. The test & measurement, aviation, and other businesses continue to provide essential instruments and equipment with industry-leading precision and reliability. Yokogawa co-innovates with its customers through a global network of 113 companies spanning 60 countries, generating US$3.6 billion in sales in FY2018.
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